Hi! I’ve been M.I.A. for pretty obvious reasons. The last time I sent a newsletter I wrote it in a fit in like, the middle of the night. Hopefully, since then you all have been either taking the streets, donating, or helping out any way you can from home. If you are at a loss of how you can help, I recommend tweeting/messaging protestors police updates (find more info on how to do that here). Get involved, donate locally (seriously, stay away from Campaign Zero and national orgs if you can), and stop bothering your Black friends about how you can help—there are tons of resources already.
I don’t know when the next newsletter will go out, but thankfully I don’t think many people will be upset about it (not a self-own, we just all have our thoughts elsewhere). I have so much I want to say, but most of it I’m saying on Instagram and Twitter so hit me up there. I will say that #theshowmustpaused thing went south quick, but a ton of music businesses released statements—aren’t sure if your label or company said anything or even donated? Check out areyouadub to find out! If you saw the “For The Record On The Fight For Black Lives” Google Spreadsheet, then this is basically the same thing.
If you want more analysis of how far the music industry has to go, I recommend reading Cherie Hu (she recently broke down how many Black people were in music industry C-suite positions). Other than that, I’d rather shut-up for now and listen to what Black people have to say about the state of the industry.
(Also side note: k-pop stans, I see you and I love it)
in my queue 🎶
One of my friends, Steph Dinsae, curated this playlist back in April right around 4/20 for SMK BRK. It starts with pure club bangers from Pop Smoke (RIP), Young M.A. and Asoh Black! before transitioning into smooth R&B from The Internet and Ari Lennox. In addition to being a master curator, Steph is a poet and MFA student. You can follow this rising Bronxite on Instagram and check out their poetry here!
Bandcamp Friday for June may have just passed, but I already have a reccomendation for July 3rd! unsounded points of view is a new EP from massai, featuring biting lyrics (“for a second, i thought we were in a circus / how we mimic each other’s words / to benefit our purpose in the interaction”) that try to pin down complex, nearly untranslatable feelings—the Tumblr made-up-word “sonder” makes an appearance on the second track, hinting at the abstract nature of unsounded. The EP finds maassai not bored but tired of having conversations with no point, of feeling out of place—unsounded feels like an eagle-eye point of view of the mundanity of human interaction, an examination of the way people talk without ever really speaking with each other (miscommunication).
what i’ve read 📖
Like many people involved in protests, I’ve been practically glued to my phone for the past two weeks. I haven’t been reading much because I’ve been busy keeping up with the news (i.e. hearing what is actually happening on the ground through social media), but I did want to highlight some reading lists (and add my own) that I want to return to!
My friend Fayola, who you may remember for her amazing SMK BRK playlist, has compiled not one, but two reading lists: Essential Reads for Anti-Racist Work, and Queer Reads for Black Pride. They’ll be releasing new reading lists bi-weekly, so make sure you follow them for more. If you do use the reading lists, pay for Fayola’s labor via @Fayola-Fair on Venmo or $FayolaFair on Cashapp.
Music journalist Jenzia Burgos made this handy graphic with reading lists for music fans of all genres to learn about the contributions Black people have made in Hip Hop, Country, Rock, Electronic music, Punk, and Reggaeton. As she writes in the caption, “They don’t want you to know that American music is Black music, period.”
I’ve been working my way through Revenge of the She-Punks by Vivien Goldman and it’s kind of infuriating how Black women like Poly Styrene have been written out of the punk canon! Punk is Black, and more specifically, Black women played a pivotal role in making punk what it is today—I can’t describe what a revelation that is after going to punk shows and feeling out of place. Like, Black people made punk, and yet Black punks still have to say that they are here, have been here, and would like to not be treated as a novelty. The work that’s gone into making Black people feel out of place in genres that they pioneered is so astounding!
In that vein, I would like to include a panel by Emo Night LA: Racism in the Punk/Alternative Scene: A conversation led by Black voices. The panel was recorded and is available to stream on Twitch, and it helps address the issues in the Punk scene (like how overbearingly white it can be despite being rooted in a Black musical form). Before you click and watch, I’d like to provide a disclaimer: Odiosas, a Bronx collective that hosts regular Emo Nite events at the Bronx Beer Hall, has called out Emo Night LA for gaslighting them after they brought up concerns about the timing of the panel (namely that it’s opportunistic). While the panel itself is important, I’d prefer you put your time and support behind Odiosas.
I’d also like to highlight some book clubs you can join—Lauren Michele Jackson wrote about how important it is to have guidance when starting an anti-racist reading list so that you can learn and dissect a text in a meaningful way.
8 Ball Quarantine Book Club (follow their Instagram for updates)
Crit Theory for the Rest of Us: a virtual critical theory reading group that meets biweekly mondays via discord.
Anarchists Care About Books (ACAB): a monthly Zoom book discussion
And finally, some music reading recommendations from me (sort of). Back in the fall, I asked Prof. Scott Poulson-Bryant to give me some advice on breaking into music journalism—for background, I took an English course with him in freshman year that made me want to pursue music writing. He gave me a bunch of books from his personal library, some of which are listed below. I’m indebted to him for sharing his knowledge and for responding when I hound him for emails. Anyways, here’s the list:
Everything But the Burden: What White People Are Taking from Black Culture by Greg Tate
Blues People: Negro Music in White America by LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka)
Just Around Midnight: Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination by Jack Hamilton
P.S. Buy from Black-owned Bookstores, and while free PDFs are nice support Black authors by buying their work!
what i’ve written📝
Take Action: A List of Ways You Can Stand In Solidarity with the Black Community: My friends at AdHoc and I have been gathering together a list of helpful resources for people looking to take real action when it comes to aiding and advancing black liberation struggles. There are tons of resources there including petitions, reading materials, funds, organizers to follow for updates, and wellness resources for Black people experiencing trauma during this time. It gets updated with new materials often so make sure to check back for more (since posting we’ve uploaded 60+ new resources, and that number is only growing!)
New York-Based Black Artists You Should Support This Bandcamp Friday (And Always): I wrote this handy guide to Black artists you should support! It was geared towards Bandcamp Friday but there is no reason why you can’t continue supporting Black musicians year-round. I actually picked up music from a few of these artists, and the article itself was a fun exercise in listening across genre lines. All of these artists are doing cool, new things with music and I’m glad I was able to highlight them this month.
I have a few issues with the way that the news has been covering protesters and the police. In general, I find coverage to be inaccurate, too trusting of the cops, and incredibly biased towards preserving the status quo (one where Black people are murdered and justice never comes). Because objectivity is a myth and people really need to do better about reporting about the Minneapolis Uprising and subsequent protests (and I’m always in the mood to learn more about journalistic practice) I’ve compiled a few resources that I’ve seen spinning around the web:
Journalist and Organizer Clarissa M. Brooks’s Thread on How to Ethically Report on Protests
Study Hall’s Anti-Fascist Media Guide (because cops lie!)
Ethical Reporting on Police Violence and Black-led Resistance: Tips for Journalists by Press On, a southern movement journalism collective
The Fourth Estate’s The Journalism Code of Practice (useful always, but especially now)
If I see anymore I’ll plug them here (I’ve been trying to see if CJR is going to come out with anything similar, but nothing has crossed my radar so far). I won’t even get into how much work photographers have to do when it comes to covering protests.
I wanted to include some fabulous lists that have been made in the past few weeks of Black artists, musicians, producers, and more! A lot of them came out around Bandcamp Friday (again, the next one is July 3rd so start making your lists) but they are useful for any occasion. Black people made popular music what it is today, and Black artists are continuing to push the needle and innovate within music, so there is really no reason why any music lover shouldn’t have a diverse listening experience!
In the Direct Support of Black Musicians: a database of black artists and labels you can directly support (includes genre, and location if you want to support local artists).
Buy Music Club has a ton of curated lists on its site that support black artists
I thought I’d share some of my Bandcamp buys! I plan on buying a ton more on Juneteenth (6/19) and July 3rd, but here is how I started off:
Perfect Blue by Ntu
Another Country by dreamcrusher
Shapeshifting by Dianna Lopez
NOMOH by akari
Prodigal Gun by Partition
If you want to share your Bandcamp buys feel free to hit reply on this email!
tune out 🎧
For this edition’s tune out section, I just have a brief suggestion: Poolside.fm. Besides having a super cool website design, it has a nearly endless selection of music to listen to—from mixes, to different channels like Indie Summer and Hangover Club. There is also a stream of different visuals to accompany it. You can switch what the site looks like, send messages in the chatbox, and leave your name in the guestbook. Here’s some words from the people at Poolside.fm:
Poolside FM was conceived one awfully rainy summer in the Highlands of Scotland - a virtual vacation, if you will. The audio and video streams are curated to inject a healthy dose of serotonin into your brain.
I didn’t really feel like writing this in the past few weeks because there is very little that is truly revolutionary about writing, and when I say that I mean that the act of writing itself is not inherently revolutionary for me. I’d rather channel my efforts into real action like taking to the streets or helping protesters or literally a million other things. I still sort of feel that way? But, just because me writing about music isn’t revolutionary that doesn’t mean that other people’s writing isn’t revolutionary. There are a ton of reading lists out there, but I haven’t seen a blog roll yet focused on newsletters run by Black writers and journalists. Here’s a small list:
If you know of any more, feel free to share them with me by responding to this email.
This edition of short at the show previously included Gem’s (urdoingreat) abolitionist group. After Gem was de-platformed due to sexual assault allegations, that link was removed.